Passion, Power, and Intrigue in An Enduring Family Drama

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Another Likely Suspect?


“I don’t believe it,” Mindy said flatly. “There’s no way that you could ever convince me that Tyler had anything to do with Fritz’s murder.”
“Why is that?” Peter quizzed. “Because you two were engaged or because you believe that he has such a sterling character?”
“Both,” Mindy replied stubbornly. “You don’t know Tyler. He’s the only decent person to ever come out of the Schuyler family. He’s good natured, good hearted—he’d never kill anyone.”
“Maybe he had a good reason that you don’t know about,” Peter countered. “After all, the two of you broke up a long time ago.”
“But Fritz was murdered while Tyler and I were still together,” Mindy pointed out. “I’d know if my fiancĂ© had killed someone, wouldn’t it?”
“You’d be surprised,” Peter replied. “People are capable of hiding all sorts of things when they are properly motivated.”
“Even murder? That would take one hell of a motivation.” Mindy sighed and glanced at the clock hanging on the wall of the newsroom. It was almost time to go home. She wished Peter would get to the point and go away. While she found Officer Van Husen extremely attractive, she was also finding him extremely annoying. The man took forever to finish a conversation. “So what’s this evidence you have anyway?”
Peter drew a deep, self important breath. “It seems that Tyler was seen having a fight with Fritz shortly before Fritz was murdered.”
Mindy waited. When Peter didn’t continue she said, “So what? Plenty of people had fights with Fritz. He had that kind of personality. Prickly. Why, offhand I can name at least three people who had a fight with him the week he died.”
Peter leaned forward, his blue eyes intent. “Who? And Why didn’t you mention this to the police before?”
“I’m sure I did.”
“Well, humor me and tell me again.”
Thinking back, Mindy held out her hand and began to list the people who didn’t get along with the late chemist. “You’re right about Tyler; they didn’t get along and they did have a fight but it was nothing major. Tyler thought Fritz was interested in me and he told him to leave me alone.”
“Jealousy. Always a factor in crimes of passion.”
Mindy ignored him. “Then there was Bernard. Fritz and Bernard were always fighting over money and Fat Off. Fritz thought Bernard was taking advantage of him. He was right about that.”
“Bernard has an ironclad alibi,” Peter said. “Who’s the third suspect?”
Mindy sighed. “That would be me although I don’t appreciate being called a suspect. I didn’t kill Fritz.”
“You? What would you two have to fight about?”
Mindy sighed again, more deeply. “Tyler was right about Fritz. He was coming on to me and after one too many grabs in the lab I told him to knock it off. He laughed and told me that he could always tell when a woman was interested in him and that I showed all the signs of wanting to go to bed with him. That’s when I bopped him with a Bunsen burner.”
“Are you saying that you hit him with a lethal weapon?”
“I’m saying that I tapped him lightly with a lab tool,” Mindy clarified.
“Did you knock him out?”
“No! Fritz Weiss was alive and screaming the last time I saw him!”
It was Peter’s turn to sigh. “I’m sorry to tell you this, Mindy, but you’re going to have to come down to the station with me.”
Mindy couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Are you kidding me? Why would I kill Fritz?"
"You tell me. All I know is that you're another likely suspect and I'm sure that our detective would like to ask you a few more questions."
Shaking her head, Mindy glared at Peter. The crush that she had on him dried up like a puddle on a hot day and was quickly replaced by a huge wave of pure contempt. Honestly, her taste in men had become truly appalling. The next time she got a crush on anyone, she was going to make sure that it was on someone normal.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Some Days It Really Doesn't Pay to Get Out of Bed

"How nice it is to see you again, Peter," Mavis said as she walked down the wide staircase toward the tall, blond man standing in her foyer. "You look wonderful."

"Hello, Mavis. It has been a long time. You're looking good too."

"Thank you," Mavis replied. She reached Peter's side and tried not to shiver. She had forgotten how tall and commanding he looked in his uniform. "Would you like to go into the den? Carrie is going to bring us a pot of coffee."

"All right," Peter agreed.

Together they walked down the hallway that led to the mahogany paneled den, Mavis stepping slightly in front of Peter so that he could enjoy the view of her tiger striped leggings and black cashmere tunic. He had always appreciated her in animal prints. When they reached the den, she sat down regally in her late husband's armchair and gestured for Peter to sit next to her. "Now tell me why you're here," she requested. "Why you're really here."

"I told you on the phone. There's been a lead in the murder of Fritz Weiss."

"Why would that matter to me?" she asked coyly.

Peter looked around the room uncomfortably. "Well, unfortunately the lead points to a member of your family."

Mavis laughed. "How could anyone in my family have possibly been involved with that grubby little scientist? He was hardly the kind of person that we would socialize with."

"Maybe not but a few things have surfaced about him and your son Tyler."

Mavis felt her good mood begin to fade. "Tyler? I doubt Tyler ever met Fritz Weiss."

"Didn't Tyler work at Kutrate Kemicals for a while as a custodian?"

"Only when he was helping that lowbrow ex-girlfriend of his. The job didn't last very long. Tyler doesn't know one end of a broom from the other."

"I wouldn't know about that, Mavis, but a source has told us that Tyler was seen having a heated argument with Fritz Weiss a few days before Weiss was murdered."

"So what?"

"I'd like to talk to Tyler. Is he home?"

Not only was her good mood gone but Mavis felt the bad mood that she'd woken up with return with a vengeance. Here she had thought that Peter wanted to rekindle some of their romance when all he wanted was to question her baby boy over some silly murder. "No, he's not."

"When will he be home?"

Mavis got to her feet. "I have no idea but if you want to question Tyler about anything, I suggest that you do it through our lawyer. Good-bye, Peter."

Slowly Peter got to his feet. "I guess this mean that we aren't having coffee?"

All of the reasons why she had broken up with Peter--or why she hadn't been too heartbroken when he had dumped her--came rushing back. His simple nature, his obtuseness, his apparent inability to recognize sarcasm when he heard it. "No, Peter, we aren't having coffee today or any other day. You can see yourself out." Stalking out of the den, Mavis headed for the staircase and the sanctuary of a steaming bubble bath followed by a few more hours of sleep. Honestly, some days it didn't pay to get out of bed and this was all to clearly one of them.

Almost tripping over Carrie who was approaching the den with a loaded tray, Mavis glared at her hapless maid. "Will you kindly watch where you are going?"

"Don't you want coffee?" Carrie asked.

"No! The officer is leaving!" Mavis huffed down the hallway.

Waiting until her boss had disappeared, Carrie continued into the den. "Mrs. Schuyler doesn't want coffee," she told the good looking police officer, "but perhaps I can do the honors in her place this morning."

Peter's blue eyes met Carrie's and slowly smiled. "That would be very nice," he told her. "Very nice indeed..."

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's Been a Long, Cold Winter.

Mavis Schuyler woke up in a crabby mood. This was nothing unusual since Mavis had woken up in a crabby mood for almost every day of her fiftysome years but this morning her mood seemed extra crabby, as if she'd slept on a head of those hard pink plastic curlers, something Mavis Schuyler had never done in her entire life. But that was how she felt. Like she was being poked by something cheap and uncomfortable.

Getting out of her king-sized bed, Mavis reflected that she was being poked by something cheap and uncomfortable--her oldest son's newest fiance, Claudine. Her mouth tightened into a hard straight line at the thought of Claudine. There was no way that Mavis was buying Claudine's story that she was some kind of vegan-hippie-existentialist who just happened to fall in love with someone as wealthy and materialistic as Brad Schuyler. No, Claudine had set her cap for Brad and it was up to Mavis to remove her from Brad's life the same way she would take her son to a dermatologist to get a wart burned off. It was driving Mavis absolutely insane that Brad couldn't see the trap that Claudine had laid for him and how he was walking into it so blindly.

Mavis pulled on a cashmere bathrobe and went downstairs. Maybe a cup of coffee would improve her mood.

"Good morning, Mrs. Schuyler," Carrie said when Mavis entered the kitchen.

"Good morning," Mavis mumbled. Carrie silently set a cup of coffee down in front of Mavis. Mavis did like the way her new housekeeper had the sense not to say more to her than a simple good morning every day. That was one plus in her life. For once she had decent help.

Mavis slowly sipped her coffee, her mind focused on the Claudine problem. If only that bum Rex would do what he promised to do and get rid of Claudine. What was wrong with him anyway? She made a mental note to drop in on Rex later and remind him of their deal. Honestly, do I have to take care of everything?

The house phone rang and Carrie hurried to answer it. "Just a moment please," Mavis heard her say. "Mrs. Schuyler? It's for you."

"Who is it?" Mavis snapped.

"Someone from the police department. Peter Something or other."

Her crabbiness vanished. Peter Van Husen was calling her? Although their affair had ended ages ago, Mavis still got shivers whenever she saw Peter driving around town in one of Schuyler Square's squad cars, his blond hair gleaming underneath his cap. He might be a city employee but he was still the best looking man Mavis had ever met. Perhaps he was calling to ask her out to dinner. Of course she'd say yes. What harm could that possibly do?

Mavis took the phone out of Carrie's outstretched hand. "Thank you. Hello, Peter? This is a surprise. How are you?"

"Hello, Mavis." Peter's voice was just as deep and sexy as she remembered. "I'm calling about an investigation I'm conducting. Do you suppose I could drop in at your house in about an hour?"

"Of course," Mavis replied, instantly seeing through Peter's 'investigation' ploy. He was dying to see her again. Not that she could blame him. Mavis must have been the highlight of Peter's entire romantic spectrum. "I'll see you in a while."

Mavis returned the receiver to its cradle, her face thoughtful. Hmmmm. Peter wants to see me again, probably to pick up where we left out. Well, why not? It's been a long, cold winter. I could use some excitement.

"Carrie," she said as she got to her feet, "Officer Van Husen is coming over in a while. I'm going to get dressed. Will you please turn on the fireplace in the den and make fresh coffee before he gets here?"

"Of course," Carrie said.

Mavis sailed out of the kitchen, all of her morning crabbiness along with her worries about Claudine disappearing under the prospect of a visit from Peter Van Husen.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A New Year in Schuyler Square

It's a new year in Schuyler Square but the murder of Fritz Weiss remains unsolved. As the case has grown cooler and cooler, interest in it has waned too. With a bitter winter on hand, the good people of Schuyler Square are more concerned with keeping warm than anything else...


"This winter sucks," Sandi Cooper announced to her sister Mindy. "I think I'm going to blow this pop stand and join Mom. Where is she now?"


Mindy looked up from the cup of hot chocolate she was holding in lame attempt to warm her freezing hands. The landlord turned the heat down to 60 degrees at ten o'clock each evening no matter what the temperature was outside. "I think she's in Florida right now at a Herman's Hermits reunion event."


"How does she afford to just travel?" Sandi asked. "It's not like she ever worked or anything. What is she living on?"


"Probably Dad's life insurance. She told me once that he took out a huge policy just in case he died while we were little and she needed to support us."


"So she's spending all that on chasing has been teen idols around the country." Sandi looked disgusted. "Pathetic. What we need to do is find a rich husband for each of us and then we won't have to sit in freezing apartments for the rest of our lives."


"Money isn't everything," Mindy remarked. "Look at me. I was engaged to Bernard, the wealthiest man I ever met, and I was miserable. I'd much rather marry someone for love."


"Someone like Peter Van Husen?" Sandi slyly suggested.


Mindy blushed. "Of course not but speaking of Officer Van Husen, how's the murder investigation going?"


"Oh, it's pretty much dead in the water. No one knows who killed that weird scientist and no one cares. I haven't talked to Peter about that in ages. Maybe you should call him up and see what's happening. You are supposed to be an investigative reporter."


"I'll let someone else on the paper handle it."


"Why? Are you avoiding Peter? You know, I think he has a big ol' crush on you. You should do something about that."


"You're being ridiculous. All I care about is finding out who killed Fritz and why. This town is too small to have an unsolved mystery."


Sandi pulled out her cell phone and pressed Peter's number. "Then tell our local stud police officer that. Here."


"Sandi! I don't want to talk to Peter!" Mindy recoiled from the telephone and then ducked as  her sister threw it at her.


"Hello?" Peter's voice floated up from the cell phone. "Sandi? What's up?"


Reluctantly, Mindy picked up the phone. "Hi, Peter. It isn't Sandi. It's Mindy."


Peter's voice brightened considerably. "Mindy! I don't believe this. I was just thinking about you. There's been a lead in the murder of Fritz Weiss."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This Winter is Brutal

"Come in," Rex said. "Get out of the cold. This winter is brutal."

"Thank you." Claudine swept in the small apartment Rex shared with Tiffany and Rex quickly shut the door behind her.

"Some weather," he said. "This has been the worst winter I can remember having in a long time--"

"I didn't come here to discuss the weather," Claudine snapped. "I've never been one for small talk. I want you to do something for me."

Rex crossed his arms and waited. If Claudine didn't want small talk, then he wouldn't talk at all.

"Well? Are you willing to help me?" Claudine demanded after a few silent seconds.

"Help you do what?"

"I need for you to get rid of someone. My...an old...a former, oh, damn. It's my sort of husband. You need to get him out of my life."

Rex stared at Claudine, taking in the fresh highlights in her mousy brown hair, the fancy looking winter coat she was wearing and her brand new boots. The woman standing in front of him was a far cry from the dumpy quasi-hippie who had moved into the Schuyler's house months before. Obviously Claudine had gotten a taste of the good life and liked how it went down. Rex got that since he felt exactly the same way. Still, that didn't mean he had to help the broad. Why should he? "Why should I? What's in it for me?"

"I can pay you a thousand dollars."

"Let's clear up a few things first such as why did you come to me with this offer and what exactly do you want me to do? Rough the guy up or push him in front of a train?"

"Either would work," Claudine said thoughtfully.

"What made you think of coming to me?"

Claudine blushed slightly. "Well, you have a reputation for being a little rough around the edges. Plus you always seem to need money. I put the two together and came up with..."

"A plan that could get me a nice, long stretch in jail. No, thanks."

"What am I supposed to do if you won't help me?" Claudine demanded. "Steve could really screw up my relationship with Brad and the rest of the Schuylers."

"Why don't you just tell Brad about your former boyfriend. He's nuts about you. He won't care."

Heading for the door, Claudine shook her head. "You simply don't understand how rich people think, Rex. That's why you'll always be lower class." She slammed the apartment door on her way out.

Rex had to laugh. Maybe he should take Claudine up on her offer and then figure out a way to get rid of Claudine and her ex-boyfriend in one fell swoop. He might not understand how rich people thought but he had a newsflash for Claudine: she didn't either since what she wanted to do to this joker named Steve sounded like exactly what her future mother-in-law wanted to do to her.

"Life," Rex said, "is definitely strange."

Monday, November 25, 2013

One Hand Washes the Other

There were times when Rex was pretty sure that it would be easier to just go out and get a regular job instead of trying to figure out ways to shake loose Mavis Schuyler's money tree. Her latest scheme, that he break up her son's relationships with that cold fish Claudine, was not going well. For starters, Rex still wasn't clear if Mavis wanted him to come between Claudine and Brad in a romantic sense or if she wanted him to whack Claudine. It was a point that he needed to clear up.

"Rex? Where are you?" Tiffany entered the living room and found Rex sprawled in his recliner, deep in thought. "What are you doing?"

"Thinking."

Tiffany laughed. "Why would you waste your time doing that? Come on, let's go to the mall."

"Tif, your aunt is leaning on me to get rid of Claudine. I told you about that."

Tiffany sat down next to him. "So what?"

"Well, with the holidays coming, I could use the dough she wants to pay me but I'm not entirely comfortable with the whole thing."

"Why not? I want a very special Christmas together since this is our first major holiday together."

"Suppose she wants me to get rid of Claudine permanently? It might be our last major holiday together."

"Since when do you do whatever Aunt Mavis tells you to do? Just tell her you tried, make her give you the money and forget about it. It's not like she can turn you into the police. She's the one who hired you to do something illegal. Or at least unethical."

Rex scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Somehow I can't see your aunt agreeing with you. She'll do anything to get that Claudine chick away from your cousin. She's going to want me to do something."

Tiffany screwed up her own face in thought. "I know. I'll tell Brad that I saw you making out with Claudine at that burger place over near the high school. He'll believe me, he'll dump Claudine and you'll get paid!"

"But Claudine will say you're lying."

"Who is my cousin going to believe? His stupid fiancee or his own flesh and blood?"

"He's in love with his stupid fiancee," Rex said. "You two aren't all that close."

"Well, for Pete's sake!" Tiffany leaned back against the sofa cushions and pouted. "Are you going to spend all day thinking about this? I really need to get to the mall!"

"Oh, all right. I guess I can think in the food court."

After putting on their winter coats, Rex pulled open the front. Standing in the hallway was Claudine, Brad's girlfriend and the person Rex was supposed to get rid of. "Claudine!" Rex said, forcing a note of friendliness into his voice, "What are you doing here?"

"I need your help," Claudine replied. "Now."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Early Christmas Shopping?

"Hi, Carrie. Have you seen Claudine?"

Carrie looked up from the sofa she was almost through cleaning and smiled at Brad Schuyler sympathetically. He really did seem like a nice guy and he never failed to thank her for anything she did for him at the Schuyler home. Why he was engaged to someone like Claudine was beyond Carrie. "She was in the kitchen the last time I saw her."

"The kitchen?"  Brad's face lit up. "Is she baking her special wheat bread that she makes out of all organic products? She hasn't made that since she came here."

"Um, no. She's not baking. The last time I saw her she was...resting." No way was Carrie going to tell Brad that the last time she had seen his fiancee Claudine was sprawled across the kitchen floor in a dead faint because of some good looking guy who had dropped by to see her. Brad would find that out soon enough.

"Resting? In the kitchen?"

Carrie shrugged and returned to the sofa. It wasn't her job to explain everything to these people. Besides, she had the feeling that Claudine was pretty expert at explaining herself out of any situation.

"Thanks, Carrie," Brad said before disappearing down the hallway. Carrie stared after him, her lips pursed. Honestly, Brad Schuyler deserved better than Claudine Whatever Her Last Name Was. It was none of her business but Carrie hoped that the man who had appeared on the doorstep a little while ago, the one who had obvious ties to Claudine such as being her common law husband, would put an end to Brad and Claudine's engagement. Maybe then Claudine would move out and Carrie would have one less bathtub to scrub out every morning.

Brad went into the kitchen but it was empty. Glancing out the bay window behind the breakfast nook, he saw Claudine hurrying toward the white Mustang that he had given to her for an engagement present. Where could she be going? Well, there was only one way to find out. Heading out the back door, Brad decided that he'd surprise his fiancee by following her. He was sure she wouldn't mind. After all, they were going to spend the rest of their lives together.

Brad tailed Claudine to Center Avenue. He was a little behind her but managed to watch her park in front of Helander's sporting goods store. Puzzled, Brad parked too. Maybe Claudine was doing a little early Christmas shopping. He was positive that she wouldn't be buying anything for herself at Helander's. Claudine loathed athletics. Maybe he shouldn't follow her into the store. Maybe she was getting something for him.

Brad stayed in his car, squinting as he watched his fiancee move throughout the store. His eyes widened when she reached the counter and pointed at something behind the clerk's head. His eyes got even bigger when the clerk handed Claudine what she'd been pointing at. It was a handgun. A small, black, extremely lethal looking handgun.

Who the heck could Claudine be buying that for?